||In response to the United Nations and APEC designated 2002 as the International Year of Ecotourism, the Ex-executive Yuan Premier Yu Shyi-kun approved the 2002 Ecotourism Year Working Plan that made 2002 as Taiwan Ecotourism Year.
Ecotourism is an international trend and Taiwan has abundant ecotourism resources that have yet to be developed. According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), the estimated growth of this industry is between 10% and 15% per year and will become the largest industry in the world. Ecotourism is the fastest developing industry on earth. Ecotourism pays attention to both environmental protection and local economic development. On the other hand, business tourism merely cares for the bottom line and profits are collected by the enterprise, instead of contributing to local communities. Under a huge number of tourists visited, hot tourist spots sustain quite negative impacts and influence quality of life of the local residents indirectly. The 2002 Ecotourism Year affords the opportunity to exam ecotourism development, and hope can carry out the developing objectives among the environment, economic, and society.
According to the above context and motivation, the objectives of this study are described as follows: (1) to understand the relationship between quality of life of local residents and its antecedents for ecotourism development; (2) to understand the relationship between the quality of life of the local residents and their support for ecotourism development; (3) to provide the authorities and the industry with some suggestions.
This study adopts the largest mangrove swamp in the world—three nature reserves of Bali Watzuwei, Danshuei River Mangrove, and Guandu, which are bordering on the banks of Damshui River. This research contains 513 valid samples and uses the Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to evaluate the causality of the local residents’ quality of life and its antecedents, and support for ecotourism development.
The results are described as follows: (1) According to the result of literature review, perceived economic benefits should have positive influences on quality of life of the local residents, but the result is not supported such hypothesis in this study; (2) Perceived social and cultural costs have negative influences on quality of life of the local residents; (3) Perceived social and cultural benefits have positive influences on quality of life of the local residents. The study suggests that it is necessary to understand whether the local residents support or not before the authority of the community or the developers pursue the ecotourism development. The leader of the community, authorities and developers should conscientiously consider local residents’ perceptions and quality of life to ensure the success of the developing project before developing the nature ecological reserves. Otherwise, the ecotourism development not only decreases quality of life of the local residents, but also causes the damage to the original shape of the local natural ecology.